The following Sunday Forum is in response to “Triumphant Trump celebrates tax win – but some fear backlash” (Dec. 20).
‘All hands on deck’
Republicans in Congress have rammed through a very unpopular tax bill which rewards the very wealthy and has severe consequences for ordinary Americans.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party establishment has taken to the ramparts to prevent progressives from gaining a foothold with their agenda that includes improved Medicare for all, a reduction in the bloated military budget, the ending of fracking, etc.
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Moreover, the U.S. Senate is missing in action regarding foreign policy. More and more voters are registering as independents and advocating for non-partisan approaches in problem solving. Now, more than ever, we need all hands on deck.
Elizabeth S. Axtell
Leave donors out
The Republican legislature has passed a tax bill which the majority of the population doesn’t want, once again demonstrating that the idea of representative democracy in America exists only in the hopes or, more accurately, delusions of the electorate.
The impetus for this bill is in no way a mystery; big-money Republican donors have told the party that failure to enact it will mean no more funding. You could call this bribery or prostitution, and both seem accurate. The only remaining trace of democracy is our vote. And, despite the rabid Republican effort to completely subvert this as well, we still have a window, albeit a limited one, in which to exercise our franchise and vote them out.
For those who have fallen prey to the fiction that both parties are equally corrupt, I’d suggest that a few moments of fact-checking can disabuse them of that notion quite quickly. There is far more at stake in the 2018 elections than at any time in history. I think a strong case could be made that it is the very existence of our nation, perhaps the world, which is at risk.
I’m living my 90th year, and I know that the government’s $900 billion debt in 1981 should have been repaid years ago and never allowed to grow to its current monumental size. Reaganomics is surely the biggest fiscal scam ever and, according to realistic economists, unsustainable. The victims will be future generations who eventually will restore the government to fiscal sanity – but at great cost and consequences.
For the past 36 years, tax cuts have been unaffordable and debt building, but promises of tax cuts shamefully buy candidates election votes. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have just ignored the soaring debt and its interest cost and, according to Trump, will enact “the biggest tax cuts ever,” although mostly for the wealthiest.
Clearly, during the 2018 election we must elect only those candidates for Congress who promise to quickly pass legislation to repeal and replace Trumponomics – and to prohibit further tax cuts and spending increases (including increased congressional salaries and benefits) until budget deficits have been eliminated and reduction of the debt and its interest cost is well down the path to a debt-free federal government.
Tax reform ‘rush’
I had no objection to Congress reworking the tax code since no major revision has been done since 1986. However, I had two broad objectives I hoped it would attain.
First was that the tax plan would be revenue neutral. I had hopes for a revenue positive plan but knew that was probably a pipe dream. That did not happen. The tax plan will add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years, and some say it may be a lot more. It is beyond me why we need to borrow money from China in order to give the wealthy and rich corporations a tax break.
Second, is that it would reduce the income inequality between the rich and the poor. It appears this did not happen – in fact it may make it worse. For example, the big corporate tax cut. If we give corporate America all this money back in a tax break, what will it do? Would it build new plants, hire more people and raise wages and benefits, or would it do the same thing it has done with the money it has borrowed during the last few years?
In that time, 70 percent of the money corporations borrowed at very low interest rates has gone to stock buybacks, not building plants or increasing wages. Of course these buybacks help stock market portfolios (including mine), but when you realize that the top 20 percent of households hold 80 percent of the stock, this hardly reduces income inequality. This is what you get when you rush a very complex change through in a panicked, political rush.
‘Math won’t work’
As a former Republican, now Independent voter, I am frustrated by the continual ignoring of a looming problem. U.S. debt is about $20.6 trillion and is expected to increase by $10 trillion over the next 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office – before the tax bill impact. So, instead of doing anything about this projected $30-plus trillion problem, the proposed tax bill will increase it from $300 billion to $1.5 trillion depending on the estimate.
This is beyond poor stewardship, as we cannot cut our way out of this problem – we must increase revenue. This was the conclusion of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee in 2010 that said we need a $1 increase in tax revenue for every $2 in spending cuts. If politicians tell us that we can significantly cut the debt without increasing tax revenue, they are not being truthful. The math will not work.
We need better stewardship than we are getting from Congress and the White House.